To get an idea of what the MINI Challenge UK looks like, take a standard Mini Cooper. Then, install a roll cage, motorsport gear box, and motorsport Engine Control Unit. Add a national champion-level racecar driver, like Charlie Butler-Henderson, send him on eight different rounds of racing, and you have a general picure of one of Europe's fastest-growing single-make racing competitions.
A Revo Brand Ambassador, MINI Ambassador, and last year's MINI Challenge champion, Charlie has his eye on defending his title in 2016. With the eighth round of racing set to begin on October 29th, Revo checked in with professional racing and racing instructor from across the pond to see how he is preparing for the final round.
Revo: You have been racing now for over 20 years. Is there anything you wish you could tell your 20-years-younger self?
Charlie Butler-Henderson: Yes-Never give up, as it is a tough sport financially and physically but such a buzz driving flat out and racing on the edge of what can be achieved from the car.
Revo: The MINI CHALLENGE is designed to be an affordable entry point to Touring car racing (BTCC). Are there any tips or tricks you would give a first-time racer driving the JCW John Cooper Works?
CBH: A season costs around £45,000 and a touring car season is around £500.000 so it does this well. The tips would be to qualify at the front of the grid and push hard every lap, and never back off.
Revo: Do you get an adrenaline rush watching your students race?
CBH: Yes, always when I coach a younger driver. You also do get attached to them and want them to succeed.
Revo: After you placed first in the 2015 MINI CHALLENGE, the pressure was on to defend your title. How, if at all, did your training regimen change after that?
CBH: No change whatsoever. Just more nerves to retain my title!
Revo: Your older sister, Vicki Butler-Henderson, taught you how to kart and is widely respected as a competitive driver, so you’re no stranger to competing with women on the grid. Do you have any advice for female racing hopefuls wanting to break into the industry?
CBH: There are a lot more ladies joining the sport, which is awesome, and I have always respected that as Vicki has done an amazing job in a predominantly male sport. No advice [for female racers], as I want to beat them like any other competitor. But, I am available for coaching for a small fee!
Revo: You have one round left! After thankfully walking away unscathed from a rather impressive crash in the last round, how confident are you feeling about maintaining your lead on David Grady later this month?
CBH: I am 2 points in the lead. As per the rules, I can drop my worst round, whcih was from the accident that I scored nil points, so I can drop a zero round where he has finished every race. Wish me luck in the final round everyone, and hope to catch up with you all in the near future!
The final round of the 2016 MINI Challenge UK will take place October 29-30.